Opinion, Case No.23681 In the Matter of Hon. Larry V. Starcher



IN THE SUPREME COURT OF APPEALS OF WEST VIRGINIA

September 1997 Term

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No. 23681
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IN THE MATTER OF HONORABLE
LARRY V. STARCHER, JUDGE,
CIRCUIT COURT OF MONONGALIA COUNTY,

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Judicial Disciplinary Proceeding

ADMONISHMENT
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Submitted: October 7, 1997
Filed: January 23, 1998


                            Thomas V. Flaherty, Esq.
Charles R. Garten, Esq.                Christopher W. Jones, Esq.
Judicial Disciplinary Counsel            Flaherty, Sensabaugh & Bonasso
Charleston, West Virginia                Charleston, West Virginia
Attorney for the Judicial                Attorneys for the Respondent
Investigation Commission      Honorable Larry V. Starcher, Judge     
JUDGE HOLLIDAY delivered the Opinion of the Court.


SYLLABUS BY THE COURT

         1.     "'Under [Rule 4.5 of the West Virginia Rules of Disciplinary Procedure], the allegations of a complaint in a judicial disciplinary proceeding "must be proved by clear and convincing evidence."' Syllabus Point 4, In Re Pauley, 173 W.Va. 228, 235, 314 S.E.2d 391, 399 (1983)." Syllabus Point 1, Matter of Hey, 192 W. Va. 221, 452 S.E.2d 24 (1994).
         2.     "'The Supreme Court of Appeals will make an independent evaluation of the record and recommendations of the Judicial [Hearing] Board in disciplinary proceedings.' Syl. pt. 1, West Virginia Judicial Inquiry Commission v. Dostert, 165 W. Va. 233, 271 S.E.2d 427 (1980)." Syllabus Point, Matter of Hey, 193 W. Va. 572, 457 S.E.2d 509 (1995).
        3.     "Stipulations or agreements made in open court by the parties in the trial of a case and acted upon are binding and a judgment founded thereon will not be reversed." Syllabus Point 1, Butler v. Smith's Transfer Corporation, 147 W. Va. 402, 128 S.E.2d 32 (1962).
         4.     In a disciplinary proceeding against a judge, in which the burden of proof is by clear and convincing evidence, where the parties enter into stipulations of fact, the facts so stipulated will be considered to have been proven as if the party bearing the burden of proof has produced clear and convincing evidence to prove the facts so stipulated.

         5.     "'When the language of a canon under the [Code of Judicial Conduct] is clear and unambiguous, the plain meaning of the canon is to be accepted and followed without resorting to interpretation or construction.' Syl. pt. 1, In the Matter of Karr, 182 W.Va. 221, 387 S.E.2d 126 (1989)." Matter of Starcher, 193 W. Va. 470, 457 S.E.2d 147 (1995).